101 reasons to love cycling in London #20 - bikes are the most efficient means of transportation in the world

All means of transportation need fuel to propel them from A to B - whether it be jet fuel in aeroplanes, petrol in cars, or bananas (or more often in my case; cakes) in cyclists and walkers.

Of course these days we are all too aware of the pitfalls of using too much petrol or coal or finite sources of fuel - it's become, if you like, a very modern affliction.  Which is why it is all the more surprising that the humble bicycle comes out on top when it comes to efficiency of fuel - it's more efficient even than just walking.

Fuel expended by mode of transport, KJ per KM per passenger:
 

I don't point this out because I think it's some great green stick we should use to beat and berate other transport users with, but to point out how much sense cycling makes when you weigh up the options.

Getting around town more efficiently, on one of the greatest inventions ever made by man?  It's reason number 20 to love cycling in London!

The above graphs were created by me using data collected here.

2 comments:

Chris Hutt said...

I think you need to take account of the energy expended in producing and distributing the food used to fuel the cycling. I suspect if you did this you'd find that human powered transport didn't look so good, such is the energy intensive nature of our food production.

Mark said...

Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by - nice to see someone blogging from my old home city!

The point I'm trying to make with the post (tongue reasonably in cheek) is that for journeys under 5 miles people are using cars, trains, buses etc, and of course they've consumed the same food as a cyclist - their other fuel consumption (electricity, oil, whatever) is all in addition to the power we have stored within which can get us from A to B fairly esily: ie everything else is superflous and therefore cycling is the most efficient means of transport for such trips.

I would agree that there are fundamental problems with the way we gather our food, but that's a whole other story....!